I bit my lip, and hit “reply” to the text message.
‘That sounds exciting and scary’, I wrote. ‘Can I think about it and let you know?’
My friend Erin had just asked whether I would join her to be a Designated Dancer at Queer Slow Dance.
Queer Slow Dance is a regular night in Toronto (and Montreal) that pretty much does what it says on the tin. And my job as a Designated Dancer would be to spend two hours asking strangers to slow dance with me, gently easing the wallflowers from their seats and helping them to feel included.
It sounded terrifying.
Partly because of the concept. Slow dancing isn’t really a thing we DO in the UK. My only experience was once, at my summer camp, when a Much Older Boy asked me if I’d slow dance with him. I remember finding it awkward and a bit too grown up to be comfortable.
But I was most scared of having to walk up to strangers and ask them to dance.
What if they say no?
What if EVERYONE says no?…read more
Within my career to date, it was the bravest move I’d ever made. Or maybe just the scariest.
Part of me couldn’t believe I was about to say this – to a TOTAL stranger. Someone I’d never spoken to before.
And at one of these events!
The kind I knew I should be at, but was terrified of. I’d only gone because my buddy Steve had said he would chum me. Then he got held up at work, but I hadn’t discovered this until I was outside the door. And I figured…well, I’m here. And I really need to meet some of these people.
After what felt like HOURS (but was more likely five minutes), I made the decision to do it. I spotted my target… walked up. And SAID IT…read more
I’m pretty sure it’s because of six year old girls that we all fear this.
You know the deal: you’re in the sunny schoolyard. You skip up to your two friends, excited to tell them the FUNNIEST thing that Stephen Henderson just did by the swings – when they turn to you, one of them screwing up her mouth, then saying,
“Sorry. Private con-ver-saaaation”.
Crushed, you slink away, feeling the hot burn of humiliation in your chest.
I actually don’t remember a specific incident where this happened, but the fact that imagining this scenario just now has given me such a visceral, physical shame reaction, tells me that it definitely did.
When you’re in a crowd – even if it’s a networking event or a conference, where protocol says it’s totally fine to walk up to strangers and introduce yourself – knowing who it is and isn’t ok to approach can take you right back to that hot summer afternoon.
What if you walk up and start talking – and they give you…read more
It’s kind of a stupid thing for me to say. It might sound like I’m trying to put myself out a job. But it’s just true:
I hate going to networking events.
Sometimes, they’re unavoidable for me. Maybe it’s been organised by a friend; perhaps a business buddy wants to meet me at one. Sometimes I can roll with it and try and have fun – but often, I’m totally not in the mood and can think of twelve other places I’d rather be.
If this sounds like you, here’s a solution:…read more
When I tell people what I do, often they’ll say, “Oh I hate going to networking events!”
Here’s the thing: so do I. They can feel like everyone’s trying to sell you their thing, plus they tend to have snacks at a time meant for dinner, so my hunger gets confused.
But a conference? I bloody love a conference. Have done since I started going to student radio conferences in the 90s, and now love going to ones where I meet other people like me, who are trying to use their powers for good. I love the learning. I *LOVE the meeting people. I love that sometimes, I get to show off a bit.
But, in spite of of all that, I kind of emotionally go through the ringer before each one.
This weekend, I’m at World Domination Summit – which, while it sounds like a Lex Luthor/Doctor Evil meetup, it’s actually talks, meetings and mini-events for 3000 entrepreneurs, who are all trying to make the world a better place.
So, in celebration, here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at my brain, in the run-up to going to, and at the start of, a conference…read more
PART TWO: The Simple Two-Minute Trick That’s A GAME-CHANGER for your Business Or Career [includes templates]
Now that I’ve told you why always sending a “nice to meet you” email is the KEY to easy, fun and effective networking, let me show you what one actually looks like.
Let’s go back to the example from the previous explanation blog – you meet Janet at a conference in Sudbury and learn that she works for Google and has a new pug dog. Let’s say you discuss her dog, and the fish sandwiches.
I’ll write out how the email could look, then break it down for you. At the bottom, I’ll put a template that you can copy, paste and then fill in the blanks.
Subject: Sudbury conference / Obama Pug…read more
Have you ever said, “I hate networking”?
Chances are, you have – if not out loud, then quietly to yourself through gritted teeth, as you walk into a work event.
Here’s the thing: most of what you hate about networking? Isn’t actually networking. It’s schmoozing and bragging – and it very rarely works.
REAL networking happens gently over time, and most over email.
That sounds a little less scary, right?
A fundamental rule of networking that’s effective (and actually fun) is that it’s a long term relationship – not a one night stand.
So while that first in-the-flesh meeting is important when it comes to making industry friends – just like a first date is important when it comes to having a romance – it’s what happens afterwards that makes the BIG difference to your network.
And it’s your network that’ll make the BIG difference to your business or career – and to whether you are scrabbling to find clients or your dream clients are scrabbling to work with you.
The simple two-minute trick that will build your network and make you stand out: …read more
A couple of months ago, I got to meet one of my heroes. Someone I think is AMAZING. The first bit of the encounter – when there were lots of others around – went alright.
Then I tried to talk to her one-on-one.
Before I knew what was happening, I was acting like – well, basically, the opposite of how I wanted to come across. Lots of spitting. Laughing too hard. Almost as if I was trying to make her dislike me.
Sadly, it’s a way of behaving that I know all too well. Happily – I’ve learned to give this condition a name – and some steps to get rid of it.
Is this something you’ve experienced?
If so, in today’s video, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to…
They were perfect. Both of them. Exactly what I was looking for.
I sat, pretending to work on my computer. Listening to what they were saying. Trying not to laugh out loud at their jokes. Stealing glances when I could.
The two girls seemed to have known each other a while. As far as I could gather, one was some sort of designer or artist. The other worked for a non-profit. They were lefties, like me. They both dressed really well.
Picking up my mug to sip, I daydreamed. Imagine if I was brave enough to do what I really wanted to? I’d get up from my rustic chair, stroll across the cafe to their table, and stand above them.
“Excuse me”, I’d smile. “Sorry to interupt. I’ve been over there, listening to bits of your conversation. You both seem great. I love your clothes and you’re both really funny. Would either of you like to hang out sometime? I don’t mind which one. I’m new in town and looking for friends. Do you fancy being one of mine?”.read more
A little break from the norm: usually, I write and make videos about how to get on well in any networking situation. Especially, how to have conversations that are actually interesting and fun – even a short chat with a total stranger. My clients and readers have had successes with this stuff, at everywhere from art shows to blind dates.
Recently I keep being asked, “What do you do when the conversation you’re in dries up? How do you get away?”. Almost every new exchange has its life span – and you might need an exit strategy, even from ones you’ve enjoyed.
So, I made you a video – with a script – for these exact situations. It features a cameo by an A List celebrity. I don’t want to give too much…read more